Project reviews. The How, What and Why

Project reviews are a critical part of any project. They are often at the end of a project phase and have a strict list of criteria for what must be achieved for the project to move into the next phase. Many Project Managers see these stage gate reviews as a ‘necessary evil’ but project reviews can hold valuable insights which can support a successful implementation of a project.

What is a Project review?

A project review or stage gate is a phase driven “Go/ No Go” decision making for a project to proceed and ensure that all project requirements are successfully and correctly adhered to. During this review, the following may be reviewed:

  • Project plan review
  • Review of project risks/ issues logs
  • Overview of the project cost / budget reviews
  • Give a communication and status update to the team and necessary stakeholders

How are Project reviews conducted?

A project review is typically conducted by the Project Manager and presented to the Steering Committee or required stakeholders. In my projects, we use stage reviews as a time to reflect on the current status of the project, implement any lessons learned and make any necessary corrections or adjustments as needed. This retrospective moment allows us to be able to ensure that we are still sticking to the project requirements and the value that the project needs to deliver.

In my projects, we have several stage gates throughout the duration of the project that support not only the implementation of the project but also the Project Manager in ensuring that effective Project governance has been followed. Project reviews are coordinated and supported by the PMO but the Project Manager is fully responsible for preparing all documentation needed.

Why are they useful?

Project stage gates support the effective and correct implementation of your project planning. Stage gates give you the opportunity to ensure that you project is still abiding by the guidelines set out at the start of the project. They can also be a useful check of your project budget, cost and quality guidelines. From an oversight and governance perspective, it can be useful to have this check in with the team to make sure that everything in the project is running as it should.

Tips for a successful project review:

Here are a few tips for a successful Project Review:

  • Ensure that you have the right audience for the project review in the room (normally this is documented in your project governance)
  • Prepare all of the necessary documentation upfront and have any back up material ready
    • This also includes understanding how your organisation conducts project reviews, what is necessary/ important to include and what key sign offs are required
  • Ensure that all of the outcomes of the project review are communicated to the team/ stakeholders
  • Agree within the review any next steps and make sure that any actions are SMART

Is there anything else that you’d like to know about project reviews? Let me know below!

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